You can scale agile, but you have to get real about software development.

A very large, very competent financial services company asked me to help them understand why their software delivery dates were constantly slipping, and what to do about it. They used agile methods to run their projects. I expected to spend months looking through process documents, consulting with business partners, attending project meetings. I hardly did any of that.

It didn’t take me long to figure out the problem: they had completely misunderstood the purpose of agile methods. This caused the company to incentivize the very problems agile was supposed to cure.

You might think that was a good thing for me. But the unwritten and informal incentives had career-making and career-ending implications for many powerful interests in the company. As a consultant, even approaching such a change is scary and risky.

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